Canto III


Two themes: [2] the poet in poverty,

enVISIONing the world of the gods;

[2] My Cid as another Odysseus


I sat on the Dogana's steps

For the gondolas cost too much, that year,


a] Autobiography: Pound at his lowest ebb financially in Venice

1908,unable even to afford a gondola;

b] foreshadowing of Venice/deMedici theme

which will dominate Cantos 17-27;

I love the assonance of Dogona/gondola....


And there were not "those girls", there was one face,


"those girls": echo from Browning's "Sordello."

"one face": EP very sensitive to beautiful faces.

Cf Thomas Hardy's poem about beautiful girl

seen from train, Bernstein's speech about

ditto seen from Staten Island ferry [Citizen Kane]

etc. The poem later insists that nothing is lost

that lives in memory. Hardy & Bernstein never lost

those girls; EP never lost that face.


And the Buccentoro twenty yards off, howling "Stretti",

And the lit cross-beams, that year, in the Morosini,

And peacocks in Kore's house, or there may have been.


Images of beauty of Venice. Medicis later appear

as both heroes [creators of beauty] and

villians [founders of modern banking].

EP oft repeated, "Dante's map NOT

suitable for our age," e.g. we recognize

ambiguities, mixes, middles, grey areas........


              Gods float in the azure air,


Bright gods and Tuscan, back before dew was shed.

Light: and the first light, before ever dew was fallen.


Crowley defined Magick as "causing change by

act of Will." Psychoanalyst Violet Wirth, student of Crowley,

defined Magick as "causing change in consciousness

by act of Will." Assuming one of them,

oversimplified for slow learners, which

wd you suspect?

Did EP "imagine" the gods or "perceive" them?


Panisks, and from the oak, dryas,

And from the apple, maelid,

Through all the wood, and the leaves are full of voices,


Vegetation spirits; later we will hear Confucius

urge proper respect for them.

In one sense these gods exist as individuals,

with their own trees even; in another sense

they exist as manifestations or metamorphs

of Dionysus [Canto II].

Cf EP's "Axiomata," 1921, "We have no proof

that [the theos] is one, or is many, or is

divisible or indivisible, or is  an ordered

hierarchy culminating, or not culminating,

in a unity...Dogma is bluff based on ignorance."

The Cantos seem [to me] to lean toward

polytheism, but pantheism and even

monotheism sometimes appear.....


A-whisper, and the clouds bowe over the lake,

And there are gods upon them,

And in the water, the almond-white swimmers,

The silvery water glazes the upturned nipple,


            As Poggio has remarked.


Green veins in the turquoise,


EP always presents precise images...

These I like especially: almond-white,

silvery water, green veins in turquoise.


Or, the gray steps lead up under the cedars.


Chinese theme sneaking in subliminally;

Confucius ascends such grey steps under

cedars when taking office in Chou [in the Lun Yu]

Now we jump to the Cantar de mi Cid, 1140:

[Pound condenses as he translates]


My Cid rode up to Burgos,

Up to the studded gate between two towers,

Beat with his lance butt, and the child came out,

Una nina de nueve anos,

To the little gallery over the gate, between the towers,

Reading the writ, voce tinnula:

That no man speak to, feed, help Ruy Diaz,

On pain to have his heart out, set on a pike spike

And both his eyes torn out, and all his goods sequestered,

"And here, Myo Cid, are the seals,

The big seal and the writing."


Myo Cid [a.k.a. Ruy Diaz] at a low point,

like EP at the beginning of this Canto.

"On pain to have his heart out, set on a pike spike":

the sound conveys the brutality of the age;

note how "pain" reinforces "pike spike"

una nina de nueve anos: an 8-year old girl,

kept in Spanish presumably because      a]

EP liked the sound; b] reminds reader that

we usually look at primary sources in these Cantos

voce tinnula: ringing voice? tinny voice?

I think EZ wd prefer latter if he

translated this phrase....


And he came down from Bivar, Myo Cid,

With no hawks left there on their perches,

And no clothes there in the presses,

And left his trunk with Raquel and Vidas,

That big box of sand, with the pawn-brokers,

To get pay for his menie;


They thought the box contained gold, not sand.

First money-swindle in the Cantos:

a Xtian cheating two Jews. Cd

EP's reputation as antisemite contain

some oversimplification?

In any case, the rascal or scoundrel side

of the Odysseus/Individualist here emphasized.


Breaking his way to Valencia.


Exit El Cid....


Ignez da Castro murdered,


An historic detail that will recur, with horror

added, in Canto XXX.


                       and a wall


Here stripped, here made to stand.

Drear waste, the pigment flakes from the stone,

Or plaster flakes, Mantegna painted the wall.

Silk tatters,


That whole age of chivalry and/or brutality

suddenly fades, as in cinematic montage.


"Nec Spe Nec Metu."


"Neither hope nor fear": Stoic motto that

the Occidental periodically rediscovers.

Also a "Chinese" theme...

When A Draft of Cantos 1-16 published [1925]

Pound asked publisher NOT to send a copy

to his friend Thomas Hardy because "HELL

Cantos" shd not go to old man "before later

chants bring them into proportion  to

the whole." Do not try to judge the

meaning or even the flavor of the whole

from the Infernal overture.